For tapas, a cheeky sangria, and a good time, it’s hard to beat Barrafina in the heart of the Sydney CBD. The eatery brings Spanish share plates to life. The vibe is casual and playful. A wall is painted with a pertinent expression in Spanish: ‘una comida sin vino se llama desayuno’ which translates to ‘a meal without wine is called breakfast’.
The tapas menu is divided into small plates, share plates, and grazing boards. Even though it’s from the ‘share plates’ section of the menu, the seared tuna ($23) comes out first. The delicate yellow fin tuna has a sesame crust that adds a bit of crunch and nuttiness. But I find a disconnect in flavours with the tomato vinaigrette smear, grapefruit segments, citrus pearls, and herbs.
Right away, I gravitate towards the twice cooked potatoes with salsa brava and aioli ($11), aka patatas bravas, from the small plates menu. When I was in Spain a couple of year ago, I discovered that patatas bravas has different variations depending on the region. The version I knew previously was with a vibrant tomato sauce, but in some parts of Spain I also learned it comes with a creamy, spiced aioli. At Barrafina it’s the best of both worlds, with the potatoes served on tomato sauce and drizzled with aioli. You can’t go wrong with twice cooked chunks of potato, and these here are excellent.
The chorizo a la plancha on a bed of bacon, broadbean & pea sofrito ($15) is recommended to us. A la plancha means cooked on a metal plate – so instead of the usual slices, the chorizo is served whole with a nice char on the exterior, sliced two thirds through. The sofrito has a nice hum of spices and paprika adding smokiness.
The lamb belly pintxos (4 for $14), while full in flavour from the rosemary and red wine reduction, are on the chewy side. I also incorrectly expected San Sebastian-style pintxos, which are usually skewered on a piece of bread. The biggest surprise of the night is the humble leaf salad ($9). It’s fantastic. Plump raisins are strewn through leafy greenery with pinenuts and mixed with a flurry of pickled baby vegetables. The dressing has wonderful acidic notes from white balsamic vinegar. I powered through this salad like it’s nobody’s business.
We finish with the cheese platter from the grazing boards menu ($32) and the churros ($10). And what a way to finish! The cheese board is a celebration of Spanish cheeses. From the manchego (aged 12 month sheeps milk cheese) and the pillowy, creamy queso de cabra (semi cured goats cheese) to the azul de valdeon (blue cheese), it’s a cheese lover’s dream. The house baked lavosh is crispy and generously sprinkled with sesame. The accompanying spiced pear relish is sweet and, as expected, full of spices. Membrillo (quince paste), fresh green apple slices, and walnuts also make an appearance on the board.
The main event is the churros. They’re seriously the best I’ve had in Sydney so far. Spongy, soft interior. A crisp exterior. And the perfect coating of cinnamon sugar. When you bite into it, it literally melts. The churros come with a dark chocolate sauce, but I prefer them in their simple cinnamon sugar glory.
Glasses of red wine sangria and cava sangria ensure our meal ends with a boozy bang.
This article was originally published on the AU review. Eric and I dined at Barrafina as guests of the restaurant.
2 Bligh St, Sydney
Saturday & Sunday closed